Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fun, Easy & Affordable Ways to "Green" Your Cleaning Routine

Hello greenies, for those of you who know me well, you know I love to declutter, organize, and just plain clean things! My love for cleaning began when I read books like: Lose 200 Pounds This Weekend: It's Time to Declutter Your Life by Don Aslett and Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life by Gail Blanke...both of which I highly recommend. But my "urge to purge" doesn't stop with clearing out old papers, clothes, or trinkets from years past, I love to dust, polish, and the get rid of dirt and germs.

34 weeks
Yet, last year when I was reading up on all things green in preparation to get pregnant, I discovered that some cleaning products are actually more harmful than the germs and dust we're trying to get rid of! Ever had a "cleaning hangover" where all the fumes from the sprays, polishes, and soaps you use give you a headache or make you feel dizzy? I know I suffered from them in the past, but no more! Time to go clean and go green, I've got a baby on the way and I can't be breathing these chemicals in now, let alone when she's born and crawling all around!
Making my own
cleaning products!
In my journey to "green clean" my home, I about went broke buying all the fancy and green cleaners at my local health food store and so I knew I had to look for another option. Time to research again...this time it was to find some homemade green cleaners and boy did I hit the jackpot with this book: Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan. From this book I learned about a number of recipes I could make at home for a very low cost that cleaned my house very effectively, so after nearly a year of trying them out and loving them, it's time for me to share them (as well as many others) with you! Below I will list some traditional cleaners you may have at your house, as well as a green alternative that you can either make yourself or buy. My advice would be to just try one at a time and see how that need to break the bank or overwhelm yourself and family by throwing out and changing all your old cleaners. As with anything, baby steps work just fine! Now it's time to begin the green swaps!

Green Cleaners You Can Make:

1. You may use...."Multi-Surface Cleaner". Now try..."Merlin's Magic All-Purpose Spray" from Clean House, Clean Planet. I absolutely love this spray and I use it just about daily on my kitchen counters. It has such a great clean, fresh smell (from the Tea Tree Oil mainly) and because of the antiseptic properties of the tea tree oil, I know I'm getting it clean! I just use a cloth napkin when cleaning with this spray. No need to take 2 steps forward with this green cleaner and 5 steps back by using paper towels! Use a cloth napkin or towel and throw it in the laundry after your done so it's ready to go for next time. Here is the recipe for this cleaner (as taken from this website) and below is a pic of all the ingredients you need to make it!
Ingredients: funnel, spray bottle, tea tree oil, Dr. Bronner's
Castile Soap, water.
Directions: Fill a 16 oz. spray bottle nearly to the top with water. Add 3 Tablespoons of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap and 20-30 drops of tea tree oil (or 1/2 tsp.). Shake it well and spray it on bathroom or kitchen surfaces, floors. Wipe off with a damp cloth.

Mult-Surface Cleaner

2. You may use..."Pledge Furniture Polish". Now try..."Dust to Dust: Furniture Polish" from Clean House, Clean Planet. This is one awesome green trade out, because it costs so little to make and it works just as well as the fancy furniture polish you buy in the store! One thing that I've found to give this green cleaner a boost is to use a special microfiber towel, as seen below. I found this towel at Wal-Mart and for $3-4, it really helps pick up and hold the dust. Here is a link to learn more about it. Now for the recipe...

  • 16 ounce trigger spray bottle
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil ( vegetable oil)
  • Lemon essential oil -1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
  • hot water (enough to fill bottle)
Ingredients: spray bottle, olive oil, vinegar, lemon essential oil,
vinegar, water, microfiber cloth.
Mix 20 drops of essential oil, olive oil, and vinegar with hot water in bottle. Gently shake mixture. Now you're ready to dust! I always make sure to shake this bottle a bit each time before I use it so the oil mixes back up with the water. Have fun dusting and polishing!

"Dust to Dust Furniture

3. You may use: "Windex Glass Cleaner". Now try, "Club Soda". Sounds too simple right? But t's true! For this recipe you just buy some club soda, put it in a spray bottle and spray it on windows and mirrors to give them a nice, fingerprint-free shine! Just as with the furniture polish, I've found that using a special towel is key to making this cleaner work.

Windex-type cleaner
As you can see in my pic below, I use a blue towel which you can find at Wal-Mart or any other grocery store (here is a link to it on, and the special fibers in the "Glass Cleaning Cloth" really make a difference. When I first started using the club soda cleaner on my mirrors, I was bummed that the only way I could get a good streak-free shine was with paper towels. But now that I've found this special glass cleaning cloth, I get streak-free windows every time and I'm saving some trees from being cut down...bonus! One word of caution, you may have to wipe for a few extra seconds with this club soda cleaner as it doesn't dry quite as quickly as traditional glass cleaners, but this extra time serves you well because you can make sure and wipe away any streaks as they arise.

  • spray bottle
  • club soda
  • glass cleaning cloth
Ingredients: club soda,
spray bottle, glass-
cleaning cloth
Directions: Pour as much club soda as you would like into a spray bottle. Spray onto mirrors or glass surfaces and wipe clean with a special glass cleaning cloth. Enjoy the shine (minus the ammonia and other fumes normally present in glass cleaners!).

Nice clean mirrors...minus the toxins!
4. You may use..."Traditional Toilet Cleaners". Now try: "Hollywood Bowl" from Clean House, Clean Planet. So I get that cleaning toilets is not exactly the most fun thing to do in the world, but when you give this great smelling cleaner a try, you wont' mind it quite as much anymore. It's kind of crazy to think about all the toxic chemicals lurking in traditional toilet cleaners and how most people are perfectly content to have those chemicals nearly touching our most private and sensitive areas...eek! Don't get me wrong, this isn't an excuse to have a dirty toilet, I just think we need alternative ways to get them clean! Enter..."Hollywood Bowl Toilet Cleaner" from Clean House, Clean Planet. And although I couldn't find the exact recipe, I found this recipe from online, and the only difference is the addition of 1/2 tsp of tea tree oil at the end (this will help with disinfecting...a must for toilets!). So here's the recipe...

"Earth Scrub Tub and Tile Cleaner"/"Hollywood Bowl Toilet Cleaner" from Clean House, Clean Planet
  • bowl for mixing
  • 16 ounce flip-top bottle (I use a mason jar because it seemed to always get stuck in the cap when I was trying to pour it out)
  • 2 cups of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap, I love peppermint here as well
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • (1/2 tsp. tea tree oil if using to clean toilets)
  • dish scrubbing brush
Ingredients: jar, Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, Baking Soda,
tea tree oil, vinegar, water, mixing bowl, scrubbing brush.

Mix baking soda and liquid soap in a bowl. Dilute with the water and add the vinegar last, as it will fizz like your 4th grade volcano project! Add tea tree oil, if using on toilets. Stir until the lumps are gone. If you can pour it into the container easily you have the right consistency. If it's too thick, add more water. Use funnel to pour into bottle. (Or just pour it into a mason jar). Keep the cap on bottle because this mixture will dry out. Shake well before using. For future uses, add more water if cleaner seems dry.
To clean toilets, I pour some onto a dish scrubbing brush, which you can see in the ingredient picture below and scrub away. If doing this be sure to keep the brush in a place where you know it will only get used on toilets. ( :

Update June 2011: Now that my daughter Avery is here, I don't seem to have as much time to make this cleaner, so I've gone to a store-bought version: Ecover Toilet Bowl CleanerEcover is a great, affordable, green brand and this cleaner has a nice minty-pine smell that really gets the job saves me time!

5. You may use..."Traditional Dish Soap". Now try..."Castile Soap and Water". No fancy recipe for this one, all you do is just fill a soap container about halfway full with castile soap and then fill the rest of it with water. Feel free to add more castile soap if you feel that the diluted version is not cleaning as well as you would like. This soap also doubles as our hand soap...and I use the same recipe for our body wash! I just love Dr. Bronner's Castile Liquid Soap, it's ingredients are so pure and simple. Just a head's up, if you are a "suds fan" you will not see the bubbles and foam you are used to with traditional dish soaps. No worries, your dishes are getting clean, they just may not seem that way because you didn't have mountains of bubbles and a mega-strong clean scent. This may be one cleaner you have to ease yourself into using, since it is a bit of a change. Also, if you find that the castile soap is not doing the job that your toxic dish soap once did, use a dish brush! It's funny how we rely on chemicals to clean, de-grease, and remove baked on food...when all we need is a little elbow grease! A simple $2-3 dish brush or potato scrubbing brush from Wal-Mart is what we use and it works wonders.

Ingredients: funnel, soap dispenser, Dr. Bronner's Castile
Soap, water.

6. You may use "Store-bought Fruit and Veggie Wash". Now try..."Vinegar and Water". Sounds so lovely right? LOL-trust me, once you start making this cleaner, you will not want to buy it at a store ever again! Here's the easy and cheap!

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 spray bottle (I just use my the old Fruit and Veggie spray bottle)
  • funnel
Ingredients: vinegar, water, funnel, old spray bottle
 Directions: Pour the vinegar and water into the spray bottle and shake up. Add a few drops of essential oils (lemon, orange, etc.) if you do not like the vinegar smell. I used to not like it, but now I don't even notice it! Now just spray this on your fruits and veggies to get them nice and clean, without breaking the bank!

Cleaning produce on the cheap...
7. You may use..."Air Fresheners". Now try..."Essential Oils and a Scent Ball". I am definitely not a fan of any perfumes, air freshener sprays, and even scented candles. Maybe it's because I know about the toxic chemicals that were used to make them or I just have a sensitive nose, but either way, I keep my distance from them. But every now and then you just want a nice scent in a room...I use this mainly in my classroom at school. So, I use something called a "Scent Ball" or Aromatherapy Diffuser that I found on Amazon. They run about $10-14 and basically you put a few drops of your favorite essential oil on a small pad, slide it onto a ceramic plate, and then plug the ball-like diffuser into an electrical outlet. The energy from the outlet will then heat the ceramic plate, thus heating the scent and diffusing it into the room. The scent usually lasts for about an hour or two.

Granted you may need to put a little money in up front to buy all the essential oils that you like, but just like the tea tree oil...they will last forever. My advice would be to start with one and see if you even like the scent it creates. My absolute favorite scent is peppermint and I use it nearly daily in my class. I also have: Tangerine, Lavender, Orange, Vanilla and Lemon. A word of caution about the scent pads, I try to mark them in specific ways so I do not mix the different essential oils, you could try a small colored dot on the back of the pad and then making that same dot on the bottle of the essential oil. Now all the pads need to get a good scent going is about 4-5 drops of your preferred essential oil, but you may find that some essential oils are stronger than others, so play around with it. I know it's a little non-traditional when it comes to adding a scent to a room, but it's non-toxic, pure, and very simple to do- give it a try!
Just slide in the pad, plug it in, and
enjoy the non-toxic scent!

8. You may use..."Drain-O". Now try..."Turbo Snake". I don't know about you, but my long, curly hair clogs up my sink and shower drains all the time! So instead of using Mega-Toxic Drain-o, you might want to give these "Turbo Snakes" a try. Basically they are just thick, rubber-covered wires that you shove down your drains and then pull back up. There is a textured piece on the very tip that drags back up whatever it comes across. Although it probably can't unclog a drain with a big problem, it sure helps with maintenance and to keep things from taking forever to go down. It's very reasonably priced on ($6.50) and you get 2 total units (that's 4 turbo snakes total- 2 for sink drains, and 2 for shower/tub drains)...that's about the price of a bottle of Drain-o! So next time your drain is running slow, give the Turbo Snake a try.
Turbo Snake for cleaning drains.
Green Cleaners to Buy: These are the cleaners that I tried making on my own and even though some of them did a fairly decent job...others just weren't cutting it! So I shopped around to find ones that were lower priced, but still got the job done. Now since prices and your cleaning appliances (dishwasher, washer, dryer, etc.) may vary a bit from mine, don't feel limited to just these choices! Do as I did...try, try, and try some more until you find what works for you (and your wallet)! Here are my picks for favorite green cleaners bought from the store:

9. If you use "Traditional Dishwasher Detergent". Try..."Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Tablets". I went through a phase where I was determined to make my own dishwasher detergent. There were plenty of recipes online and everyone made it sound so easy and effective, unfortunately it did not work well. I used a recipe that was 1 Tbs. of Washing Soda (a different version of Baking Soda) and 1 Tbs. of Borax, and although I could tell the dishes were clean, there was tons of white residue all on the backs of the plates and on the glasses. I was willing to sacrifice it to go green, but my hubby wasn't on board-lol! Time to go to the store. When there, I made myself dizzy comparing all the different brands and how many loads you get for your money and I think I found the best one...these Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Tablets. These tablets are very green and very effective-no streaks-yeah! Plus there isn't that bleach-like smell that always steams out at the end of the load when using the traditional dish washing detergents. Give them a try!

Ecover Dishwasher Tablets

Alright green friends, so that sums up my favorite green cleaners, both homemade and store-bought. I hope this gives you some ideas on how you can "green" your cleaning routine in fun, easy, and affordable ways. Do you have any favorite green cleaners you make at home? Share them below! Happy Green Cleaning!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

33 Weeks and the Top 5 Reasons I'm Having a Homebirth with a Midwife

Hello greenies, I’ve had a bit of a rough week as I battled a cold that I mentioned last week in this post. But after trying a few homeopathic meds, and eventually some Robitussin DM as prescribed by my midwife to ease the coughing that was causing me a lot of rib pain, I am feeling much better now. My workouts took a bit of a hit this week, but I thought it was better not to push it and let my body recover. Let's just say I did a lot of yoga and napping this week. Here I am at 33 weeks and growing! Avery has been moving a lot lately, and although the sciatic hip pain still lingers around from time to time, I’ll take it over being sick any day! Also, check out this funny pic we tried below it shows just how far out my belly has been sticking out out for this belly coming through!

33 weeks
Starting to really
stick out now...
Onto way more fun baby stuff! Let me tell you about the homebirth I’m planning and preparing for with my midwife. This may seem a bit out of the norm for most people, but after a lot of research and thought, Brandon and I are confident that is the best way for us to bring our baby girl into the world. Also, since less than 1% of all births in the United States take place at home, I guess it’s pretty fitting to me, because I like to do my own thing…however different that may be! I’ll get to more specifics of how this will look later, but here’s the basics of how it will go down: I go into to labor, I stay at home, my midwife and a birth assistant come to my house, Baby Avery is born, midwife and birth assistant leave, then we relax and enjoy our time with our new little baby.

Now since home birthing is such a unique way to have a baby, let me fill you in on the nuts and bolts of how it works. The first and most important step of turning my homebirth dream into a reality was to hire a midwife. Midwives view pregnancy and birth as a normal process of life, not as though there is something wrong with you that they need to “fix”. They simply support and monitor women during their pregnancy, labors, and births among other things! Our midwife’s name is Lisa and here is a link to her website. Now although there are midwives in hospitals and birthing centers, my drive to have a homebirth was pretty strong, so I made sure to find a midwife who does homebirths. Although I could write a whole post on why I chose a midwife over an obstetrician, one of my favorite features is that she comes to our house for all our prenatal visits.

During a prenatal visit with my midwife.
There's a pic from my most recent prenatal appointment, which took place on the couch in my living room. Usually we spend the first 30 to 40 minutes of our appointment chatting, and then it's time to check on Baby Avery! Here's my dogs watching as Lisa feels to find where Avery is positioned in my uterus. You can see two more pics below of her showing me how to feel where Avery is (this is usually followed by showing Brandon how to feel where she's at, but I didn't get a pic of that because he was my photographer for this appointment), and then there's another pic below of Lisa checking Avery's heartbeat using a handheld Doppler. The total fee for her services (including prenatal appointments, birth support, and postnatal visits) is $2,800 and although that may sound like a lot, I feel it is a well-worth it price to pay in order to have the birth I’ve dreamed of without the hassle of “fighting the system” at the hospital.

When you think of the word midwife some people have this image of some old lady coming to a birth with a towel and a bunch of snake oils to treat the mom and baby. When in reality, they are very well trained and prepared medical professionals. You can click on the “Informed Consent” link on my midwife’s website to see her qualifications and training. She also has a list of “Transfer Criteria” linked on her website, which lays out in detail anything that might come up during my pregnancy, the labor, or with the baby that may cause for us to transfer to a hospital…a common question that is often asked of me. Granted there are some women out there that are considered “high-risk” and their circumstances are such to where they need to be at a hospital. But for about 80% of pregnant women, who are considered low-risk, why get treated as though we are sick or at risk? With each prenatal appointment, my midwife tracks my progress, checks my vitals, and the baby, and goes over a number of health questions with me. If at any time she were to see something that signaled a complication, we would then discuss the possibility of moving the birth and the remainder of my prenatal care to a setting that would more appropriately support it. But until then, all is well, so we’re staying chill and staying at home! With these things in place, I feel at peace and excited about using a midwife and preparing for Baby Avery’s home birth.
Showing me how to feel where Avery
is positioned.
Now that you know some of the basics of using a midwife, here’s my Top 5 Reasons Why I’m Having a Homebirth with a Midwife:

1. Less stress. Hospitals and doctor offices stress me out. Maybe it’s the sounds, smells, and formal-ness of it all, but all I know is that I don’t like it. Even back before I was pregnant, I would stress out about going to the doctor, even if it was just for my annual checkup. So when it came time to think about my prenatal care and my baby’s birth, I knew I’d be most comfortable outside of the hospital. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a more relaxing place than my own house. How about being in your living room for your prenatal appointments...can't be beat!

Using the doppler to hear Avery's

Now after reading this book, Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, I had a whole new reason to feel relaxed during my labor and birth, and it’s because of something called “Sphincter Law”- which is the idea that your cervix is like a sphincter, the same kind that you use when you urinate or have a bowel movement. Can you imagine doing either of those things in a setting other than a private room where you feel at ease and stress-free? I know I couldn’t! Here’s a video of Ina May Gaskin explaining the concept.

Don’t have time to watch this video…then here’s my favorite thing she says, “If you can’t poop and have a whole group of people watching you, it might be a bit difficult to have a baby in that same atmosphere.” I can’t even imagine being spread eagle and naked on a hospital bed with various doctors, nurses, and interns filtering in and out… there’s no way this sphincter of mine would open one bit! Ina May says that sphincter’s are shy, and if the owner is scared, they will close right up…exactly the thing you don’t want your cervix to do when you are trying to have a baby! So how do you avoid that? Go where you’re comfortable, relaxed, and your sphincter feels safe. For me, that place is at home.


2. Choices- For a long time I thought that when you have a baby you just have to go with the system in place and hope it works out for you. Little did I know… you can take control of your birth and choose exactly what it is you want. After watching dozens of birth videos on YouTube and reading several birth books, I started developing several strong preferences for the kind of birth I wanted to have. Some being: to try birthing in water (check out this birthing tub I will be purchasing soon to have at the house for my birth), have dim lights, quiet voices, relaxing music, as few people present as possible, to wear my own clothes and not a hospital gown, the freedom to move around wherever I wanted…whenever I wanted, and uninterrupted bonding time right after birth, just to name a few. Pretty lofty goals and ideas right? Yes, maybe if I wanted all this to take place at a hospital, but change the setting to my house and it all becomes a little bit more realistic.

3. Having my choices honored. Just a few weeks ago, I remember sitting in my HypnoBirthing class as we went through some “Birth Preference Sheets” first, so that we could decide what type of birth we wanted and second, so that we could give them to our birth providers at the time of our labor to ensure that we could have the kind of birth we wanted. At that moment, I remember thinking how I lucky I was to be having a home birth, where I knew that most, if not all of my birth preferences would listened to and supported by my midwife. I am not so confident this would be the case at a hospital.

Here’s an analogy I’ve found to help me explain hospital/homebirth scenario. Having a hospital birth to me if kind of like someone with all my dietary needs (gluten-free and vegan) trying to eat at Bob Evans or Smokehouse BBQ… I could go in there and say, “Yeah I’d like something gluten-free, vegan, and preferably organic, low in sugar, and minimally processed, do you have anything like that?” What do you think they would say? Probably nothing…they’d probably just laugh. That’s what I think it would be like for me to go to a hospital. I could go with my “Birth Preference Sheets” of this nice, calm, relaxing, quiet, private, water birth I would like to have and their response would probably be about the same…"Oh okay, that’s nice lady…now lay down and lets’ get you hooked up to the electronic fetal monitor, start an IV, and this nurse is going to check your progress…by the way, put down that green smoothie! There’s no food allowed while you’re in labor.”
Let’s change the scenario and go eat at my one of my favorite restaurants…Genghis Khan (ha! I think this is like post # 5 in a row where I’ve mentioned this restaurant!) . As I’ve blogged about many times before, I love Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ because, despite all my food restrictions, I can go there and happily eat a delicious gluten-free, vegan, healthy meal because I am the one who picks out the food that goes on my plate! I pick out the veggies, the noodles, and the kind of sauce or spices I like…and better yet, I stand there and watch them cook it for me. This to me is kind of like a homebirth, in how I can choose the lighting, the sounds, what I’m wearing, and who will be there, what I want done or not done to me, etc. I kind of see my midwife as the chef who will “cook” my food for me, honoring my requests if need be, not doing anything secretly or changing things behind my back. Not sure if this analogy will make sense to everyone, but it works for me! favorite Genghis Khan!
4. Safer. While most people may think a hospital is the safest place to have a baby, I disagree because my home is cleaner than a hospital, not because I am a super-green cleaner, lol, but because my baby and I have already been exposed to all the germs currently present in my home, thus decreasing the risk of infection. Put me in the hospital where there are diseases, viruses, parasites, you name it…and no matter how many chemicals they use to kill all those germs, there’s no telling if they got them all. I just feel better staying out there in the first place. Even better, I can be as green as I want- no toxic cleaners, soaps, lotions, and other products I use.

5. Avoiding the Cascade of Interventions. This ties right into the “safety discussion” I had above, in how I also feel safer having my baby at home because the chances of me being given common labor drugs like Pitocin, having an epidural, or having c-section are greatly reduced. Granted if those are all things that you want to have, by all means…go to the hospital. But, for me personally, I want to have my baby as naturally as possible, so drugs and major abdominal surgery are out of the question for me. Now if an emergency were to come up and I have to have these things for my health, or to help Baby Avery, I would do it in a heartbeat, but I prefer to go into the labor as optimistically as possible and not seeing these things as an inevitable part of the process.

One of the main reasons, I have higher chances of avoiding this cascade of interventions is that there is much less pressure to “make progress” when I’m at home, as compared to being at a hospital on their time schedule. “What! You’re only at 4 centimeters dilated?! It’s been 7 hours…we better start you on some Pitocin to speed things along!” That is a conversation that will not be taking place at my birth! Say I am at 4 centimeters and it’s been 7 hours, if I’m at home that might be a good time for my midwife to head home for a bit and for me to rest. I would then call her to come back when things pick back up again. Oh and it probably helps to not have the anesthesiologist popping by every hour, seeing if I am ready for my epidural yet! Now if I’m at home and it’s been 48 hours since my water broke and still no sign of Baby Avery’s arrival, I would probably take some antibiotics and my midwife would keep a close watch on me. But if everything was alright with me and Avery, there would be no need for the interventions that would have been started a long time ago if I was at a hospital. Here’s an interesting discussion of the increased time restrictions, pressure on birthing moms, and chances of interventions that take place at a hospital from “The Business of Being Born.”

Now I’m going to leave you with one last quote that sums up my choice to have homebirth with a midwife, as opposed to a hospital birth with an OB…“I am the hero of my birth, not the doctor.” I feel that giving birth can be a transformative experience for the positive or negative, and by putting myself in a situation where I am treated as the “hero” of my birth, not just a victim to be “fixed” I feel it will increase my odds of having a birth that will leave me feeling strong, empowered, and proud. Have any questions about the use of a midwife or how to prepare for a homebirth? Post them below and I’d be happy to answer them!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

32 Weeks, Crib Bedding, and "Feeling" Pregnant

Hey everyone, this past week has been fun because we crossed the last thing off our "Nursery Project To-Do List"...the crib bedding! You can see the rocking finished product below and now I'll share with you where the idea came from and how we brought it to life.

As you can tell from my decorating style, I like unique items that you can't just walk into a store and find. Luckily I'm surrounded by talented and creative individuals who can help me turn my sketches and random assortments of pictures into works of art or functional pieces in a room. The star of this particular project was my mother-in-law, Cheryl. She volunteered to make the bed skirt and bumper pads awhile back and after I browsed the internet and made my final decisions on fabric and style of the two pieces, I was worried I would scare her away with my picky-ness and attention to detail, but she was a trooper and really created a crib bedding set that was better than I ever could have imagined! Here we are together with the finished crib bedding.

Here's the steps we took in creating the crib bedding for Baby Avery's room:

1. Goggle, goggle, and more google....I looked at crib bedding for many hours to try and get a feel for what I liked, didn't like, and how we could re-create the ideas I was seeing without spending a fortune. I got most of my main bedding ideas from this really cool website called, "" and from there I found this bedding (which you can see to the left) which was ironically named Avery! Although it was a bit "busier" than what I had in mind, it gave me some good fabric and style ideas. I highly recommend checking out the Modern Pea Pod website not only because you could get some great ideas and inspiration, but also because of their unique style and inventory if you're not feeling like making it from scratch. You can see my "idea page" pic above where I laid out exactly how I envisioned the bedding. The page has taken some wear and tear, but you get the idea! ( :

2. Next I bought about 1 yard of the fabrics I liked the best to see if they truly were the fabrics we were going to use. After more searching on the web, I tracked down the fabrics that most closely resembled the fabrics in my idea above through Warehouse Here is the fabric we used for the stripe called, "Terrace Kelso Maggie". For the brown and pink dot fabric I used this fabric called, "Polka Dot Kelso Maggie". As for the light pink minky fabric, I got it from Joann Fabric, it's the light pink one in the pic on this link. Looks like there's another one just like it on the Warehouse Fabrics website here. After purchasing samples of all 3, I fell in love with them and purchased the remaining fabric needed to create the crib bedding.

3. After getting these fabrics in order, I knew that I also had to find a fitted crib sheet that would match all of these fabrics. My first attempt was a bust and although it was organic, it was a milk chocolate brown...not cocoa brown like the brown in the bedding fabrics. After more searching, I eventually went with this one from Target and although it's not organic, it does match and I will be sure to wash it many times with my eco-friendly laundry detergents to "green it up a bit!". Sorry Avery!

4. After all the fabrics arrived, and after one of my many days off from school due to snow days, I went over to help Cheryl get started on the bedding. Since it was the easier of the two projects, we started with the bed skirt.

Here I am at about 28 weeks pregnant, ironing the fabric for the bed skirt...the one task I was good at! Keep me away from the sewing machine-lol!

Cheryl sewing away...
Basically we cut the strips for the four sides and then sewed them onto a piece of fabric that would go under the mattress. Next we finished up the edges. One fun detail of the skirt is the pleat in the middle and how we snuck a bit of the brown and pink dot fabric into it...great idea Cheryl! Although it's not super obvious, it's a fun detail that I think think adds a little personality to it. Last pic here is of the finished bed skirt. Bring on the bumper pads!

5. For the bumper pads, you can see that I wanted light pink minky for the inner portion of the pads, brown and pink dot fabric for the outer portion, and a thin line of piping around the top of the pads with the stripe fabric. Cheryl took this one on with her sewing buddy Nancy and boy did they do an awesome job!

6. I picked back up in the project when it was time for the ribbons that would hold the bumper pads in place. This was a funny part of the project because Brandon happened to be home while we were discussing the ribbons and where we should place them, and before I knew it, he was up there helping us decide where they should go. I love that he was able to be a part of this project, even if it was just for a little bit! Here's a funny pic of Brandon and his mom trying to figure out the placement of the bows. Both of them claimed that they have a few OCDs when it comes to position and symmetry, so it was funny to see them tie and re-tie the bows in attempts to get them "just right". They did a great job because, as you'll see below, they look just perfect! They were pretty funny in how they had to make sure it was just right and symmetrical!

7. Fast forward to this week, and now the crib bedding is complete! Here are some pics of the finished product. First up is a shot of the crib where you can see the stripe bed skirt and how it ties in with all the other pieces of the bedding.

Next is a shot from inside the crib, "Avery perspective" I guess we could, of the super-soft light pink minky that lines the inside of the bumper pads.

Next is one of the ribbons that line the crib and hold the bumper pads up. Way to go Brandon and Cheryl...they're placement is perfect!

Here is a full shot of that corner of the room, now complete with all the more empty bed-yeah! Although this pic has a glare to it, I love how bright and warm her room is so I'm keeping it!

Onto more pregnancy related things, I'm entering my 32nd week of pregnancy (see the pic of Cheryl and I above right on 32 weeks!) and as I mentioned in the title to this post, I've started to really "feel" pregnant this past week. One way that I'm feeling this is how I started noticing a pain in my lower back only on the left side that shot down to my hip and leg. I figured I just pulled something while working out or maybe I just needed an adjustment from my chiropractor, but when it stuck around for a few days, I knew something was up. So by the middle of the week the pain seemed to be reduced quite a bit and I went in for a chiropractor appointment. While there, I got some good news and bad news.

The good news being that it's just Baby Avery sitting right on one of my nerves (specifically my sciatic nerve) which tends to be very common towards the end of pregnancy. The bad news was that there's not much you can do about it...except wait for the baby to be born! I've even heard that the pain can get much worse as I get closer to the end. This is hard to take for a pro-active, problem-solver like myself because in the past, anytime I've had an ache or pain, I've researched it, found a solution and put it into action so I can move on with my life. When new things like this come up during my pregnancy, I've had to learn to adjust my thinking and reaction. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to sit around and sulk in my discomfort, I'm just going to be realistic in my healing and understand that this may just be one of those discomforts of pregnancy...a small price to pay, to bring a new life into this world!

So on a positive note, here's some things I have found that help my hip and low back feel GOOD: walking slowly (and at an incline on the treadmill-surprisingly), sitting on a stability ball, laying on a heat pad each night, keeping up with my yoga and stretching, and weekly adjustments at the chiropractor. Any other pregnant mamas experiencing this or been through it in the past? Anything you would recommend?

One last thing that seems to make me "feel pregnant" is how I'm battling yet another cold. About two weeks ago I fought off a sinus-like cold and it seemed to pass with all my natural remedies that I mentioned in this post. But by the end of last week another cold started coming on this time in my throat and chest. I'm not sure if pregnancy is just weakening my immune system, or it's all the germs from the kiddos at school, but these colds keep on hanging around! On a positive note, I've been drinking tons of water and tea as it feels good on my throat, so I know that's a good thing to do when you're pregnant. Perhaps a weekend of napping, and going to Hypnobirthing class will have a positive effect and help me feel better. We'll see!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

31 Weeks and My Birthday

Hey blogging friends, hope you had a good week last week. Mine was pretty nice and relaxing since 3 out of the 5 days of my work week were snow days! Brandon and I thought it was funny because they took it pretty serious on the news as they were calling it, "The Blizzard of 2011". Although our area didn't get the expected 18" of snow, we got quite a bit and with strong winds and negative wind chills it made for several days off from school. The first two snow days were fun and relaxing, but by day three I started to get a little bit of cabin fever! So I got out and did my grocery shopping early, luckily the roads were pretty clear.

My gluten-free, vegan
birthday brownie!
Another fun thing about last week was that I celebrated my 26th birthday. We started the birthday "funtivities" with a dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Genghis Khan, where we loaded up on some delicious veggie stir-frys...Mongolian BBQ style! I mentioned my love for Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ back in this post, and was super excited to go back. The only downside with this particular meal was that we ate way too much! Since it's buffet-style (you load up your plate with whatever veggies, noodles, meat, or seasonings you want then they stir-fry it for you), it's very easy to get a little more than you would usually eat, especially since we only get veggies, tofu, and noodles!

Enjoying Genghis Khan

Time for "second plate"!

Here's both of us with our "second plate" pictures. After this plate we both had to call it quits because we were incredibly full! The whole drive home we both felt like our stomachs grew several inches (Avery probably grew as well), but it made for a fun night with lots of good food. In the upcoming weeks I plan on attempting to re-create the exact stir-fry I get from there...wish me luck!

My birthday fun continued during the weekend when I got a new camera, watched Eat Pray Love off my that movie, and read Kris Carr's amazing new book Crazy Sexy Diet. I also continued the celebration at my parent's house on Super Bowl Sunday where we had a spaghetti dinner and celebrated both my birthday and my younger brother's as well (he turned 20). Here is his, looking more like my big brother than little brother!
My "big" little brother!
Check out the super-cute table decorations my mom had for me when I came over. It was my two favorite colors of pink and brown and she put little pretend pink baby foot prints on the table...too cute! She's been making fun homemade birthday table decor for years and I love it! I've got to start learning how to do that now that I'm going to be a momma! Here we are together. She's going to be one awesome grandma!

Table decorations my mom made.

My awesome mom, best friend, and future grandma!

With my grandparents.

Brandon with the birthday!
Oh and that picture from above of the birthday candle in the brownie is from some gluten-free, vegan brownies that I made. Trust me, I'm not that modest of a portion-eater right now, so although this brownie looks pretty tiny...I had two of them total-lol! I posted about them here awhile back, and you can find the recipe for the brownies here and the icing recipe here.

One fun aspect of having your birthday when you're pregnant is that you get all kinds of cute baby stuff! So thanks to all my close family and friends for getting more adorable stuff for Baby Avery, she and I are so lucky to be surrounded by such love and support.

Speaking of Baby Avery, I'm moving into my 31st week of pregnancy this week and as you can see from my belly pics, she has been growing a lot. Sometimes I feel like when I have a lot of snow days from school, she goes through a mega-growth spurt, maybe because I'm sleeping more and just relaxing. Either way, my belly is starting to feel like it's extending straight out lately. Many shirts no longer fit, and I find that most liquid items I drink (mainly smoothies!) find their way like a target right onto my belly. Also, here's a fun comparison picture of me at 12 weeks wearing the exact same blue maternity tank top that I'm wearing in this week's picture. What a difference! This tank hardly fits me now, and for good reason...I've been growing a baby! It's fun to remember how excited I was at the "little bump" back then.

31 weeks
Quite a change since
12 weeks!

With all this new growth, finding a comfortable sleeping position has been a bit more challenging as to now I'm down to two options...lying on my left side or my right side, but it all feels worth it because as she grows bigger the more I can feel her move! This week her movements really seemed to grow much stronger than ever before and at times I swear I can feel an arm or a leg sticking right out. Most of the movements seems to be coming from right around my belly button, but other times they are really high or really low. As these movements have increased in frequency and strength, it has really helped me feel so much more connected to her, so that's been a lot of fun.

Feeling hiccups!

Another funny movement I've been experiencing is when she has hiccups. Some people have asked me in the past if I had felt those yet, but since I had no idea, I said "no". But after talking to my midwife last week, I realized I was feeling Avery have hiccups! It's not some big, crazy movement or anything, its just a light tapping feeling. There was one or two times this past week where I would feel a consistent tapping sensation, almost like she was moving her body to a specific beat or something...pretty funny! Either way, my midwife said it's actually a good sign because it means that she's "practice breathing" to get ready for her time outside of the womb, so keep it up baby girl!  Well that's about it for my weekly update! Hope you all have a great week.
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